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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/12/21

Guests: Matthew Dowd, Adam Serwer, Kurt Bardella, Eric Swalwell


House Republicans remove Representative Cheney from leadership. Cheney says, ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. GOP Representative Cheney vows to do everything she can to keep Trump from being re-elected. Representative Cheney says, this is the opening salvo in a fight for the soul of the GOP. Representative McCarthy says, unlike the left, they embrace free thought and debate. President Biden holds his first meeting with congressional leaders about how to pay for his ambitious agenda.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And you can watch it and much more at MSNBC`s Vaccinating America Town Hall, hosted by MSNBC`s Lawrence O`Donnell at tonight 10:00 p.m. Eastern. We recommend, so don`t missed it.

I`ll see you tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. You can always find me online @arimelber. And "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid starts is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a day that will go down in history books, the day the Republican Party slid closer to full Trumpian autocracy. By purging a leader of their own party, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the number three member of the minority caucus in the House of Representatives for daring to rebuke the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, who despite wielding no political power as we sit here tonight absolutely controls the once grand old party.

Last night on the eve of her removal, Cheney delivered a memorable speech on the House floor to explain why she refuses to take the knee and bow down to Trump and his big lie about the election that evicted him from the White House.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president`s crusade to undermine our democracy.


REID: It was eerily quiet in the chamber when Cheney gave that speech, which is just one member in attendance, Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. That`s because the other Republican lawmakers cleared out, perhaps lacking the guts to hear her out and to face her the night before taking out the long knives.

And then today, as House Republicans led by Trump`s chief marionette, our Puppet Kevin, prepared to oust her as chair of the House GOP Conference, Republicans proved themselves to be not just weak but also childish, with some Republicans booing her as she rose for her final statement.

Cheney was then excommunicated from the church of Trump in a 16-minute closed door voice vote, meaning there is no tally of those who supported or opposed her removal. And in the faith of that breathtaking cowardice, Cheney remained defiant, throwing down the gauntlet immediately after her colleagues demoted her.


CHENEY: We must go forward based on truth. We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution.

REPORTER: How concerned are you that former President Trump might end up back in the Oval Office and what are you prepared to do to prevent it?

CHENEY: I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.


REID: Okay. And then after those remarks, she sat down with NBC`s Savannah Guthrie to discuss the future of her battered party.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, MSNBC HOST: Are you the leader of the opposition in exile right now in the Republican Party?

CHENEY: I intend to be the leader -- one of the leaders in a fight to help to restore our party.

GUTHRIE: A lot of people frame this as the battle for the soul of the Republican Party.

CHENEY: This is the, I think, opening salvo in that battle and it`s a battle we have to win, because it`s not just about the Republican Party, it`s about the country.

GUTHRIE: The Trump political team is actively looking to coalesce around a primary challenger to you. What is your message for them?

CHENEY: You know, bring it on.


REID: Okay. So this is the person now standing in the gap against Trumpism. The biggest man in the party of Trump marionettes in castrati is a woman. She`s also an unusual ally for the rest of us who always view Trump as an existential threat to American democracy, a hawkish neo-con who hails from the house of Dick Cheney.

But in this moment, when democracy needs allies, she is and must be our ally nonetheless. That`s how much danger our democracy is in, folks, the Democrats, liberals, progressives and those like me who vehemently oppose the war against Iraq, and birtherism, and Tea Party, all the other uglies in modern Republican history. We need to set aside those deep ideological differences for now to fight what is arguably the most radical, anti- democratic movement in this country since the civil war.

Unlike Puppet Kevin and his fellow greasy Trump minions, Cheney isn`t in this for her political ambition. Fighting Trump isn`t going to win her any Republican prices. She`s in it to salvage what`s left of her party and more importantly to fight for our democracy. One of the only ones left really who`s willing to risk her position to fight what her party has become, a party that`s rapidly, by the day, devolving into a reality circus act punctuated with childish tantrums and fascist theater, a party that is now officially split between a Trumpian identity cult that poses a national security threat to the United States and those like Cheney, politicians who made entire careers out of calling for exporting democracy to places like Iraq and who now have to fight to save democracy at home.

Joining me now is Nicolle Wallace, my friend and Host of DEADLINE WHITE HOUSE, which airs here on MSNBC weekdays at 4:00 P.M. Eastern, which you all know because I know you all watch, and Matthew Dowd, Founder of Country over Party.

And I want to first thank you, Nicolle, for responding to my desperate Whiney text this morning. I begging you to stay a little later and be on with me, because I knew you`re show is going to be fired today, and it was fire. You opened with appeasement, talking about what the party is going through and you worked at high levels in the Republican Party. You know Liz Cheney personally. So I want to play a little bit of what she had to say to Savannah Guthrie and then I have a question for you.


GUTHRIE: Do you think Leader McCarthy has placed his own ambitions to be speaker of the House above principle?

CHENEY: I think that he is not leading with principle right now. And I think that it is -- it`s sad and I think it`s dangerous. And I think that we are at a moment where the Republican Party has to have leaders that are focused on principle.


REID: Nicolle, why is she doing this? Am I mischaracterizing that she really just is in this like the fight for democracy? Why is she doing it? And what actually is she capable of doing to fight Trumpism?

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Well, I think you tied it together better than I did, better than anyone has all day. I mean, she hails from the wing of the Republican Party that, if I`m being perfectly blunt, was what drove Matthew Dowd out of the Bush coalition and what possibly propelled Donald Trump to lead the Republican Party. She hails from the hawkish, pro- military intervention, the exporting of democracy wing of the Party.

And I think that covering this as a security story is the right way to go. She sees her own party as a threat to democracy and a threat to our national security. It means she can read. It means she can read the threat warnings that have come out from the Department of Homeland Security and the most senior law enforcement agencies that the big lie is the ideology now that underpins the gravest threat to domestic security.

So I think the fact that Liz Cheney has the courage to say all of those things is the story, but I think the other half of it is that everyone else refuses to see what`s right before their eyes, that they`re all backing and bolstering and cheering and ousting someone who is speaking the truth that is available to all of them.

REID: That is, I think, such an important point. It is one of the main reasons that I really wanted to have Nicolle on tonight, because, you know, Nicolle talks so much about national security on her show, Matthew, and that to me is the most frightening thing.

Kevin McCarthy is Gang of Eight. He understands just as well as Liz Cheney does. He`s seen the same briefings. He`s heard the former -- you know, the leaders even in the Republican -- even in the Trump administration, Chris Wray say that there is this national security threat that`s posed by white nationalism that`s been ginned up from birtherism on and gotten stronger and stronger and stronger, and then Trump brought it to a head in our Capitol.

Why is Kevin McCarthy throwing out Liz Cheney, claiming his party still a big tent where they care about, we embrace thought and debate, while he`s canceling her, and saying, no, no, no one`s questioning the legitimacy of the election, that`s the whole big lie. What`s going on?

MATTHEW DOWD, FOUNDER, COUNTRY OVER PARTY: Well, again, and it`s great to be on with you two, and especially my friend, Nicolle. And I -- she`s right. I`ve been in the wilderness a lot longer than she has but she`s been in the wilderness for the last few years.

To me, this is -- I don`t think it`s an illogical thing for what the Republicans just did. And if you understand where the Republican Party is, there`s not really a split in the Republican Party. Liz Cheney does not have a party, and Liz Cheney and others, Adam Kinzinger and others are acting like there`s a reality out there like there`s some Republican Party that exists that no longer exists. They don`t belong in the Republican Party anymore. If you are pro-democracy, pro-truth, pro-facts person, you don`t fit in that party anymore. It`s not just Donald Trump, it`s 80 percent of Republican base voters go along with that.

And so to me, at some point they have to ask themselves the question, am I facilitating and enabling a party that`s going to push this by staying in it? And that`s my issue with Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Mitt Romney and others, because what happens if the House is taken over by the Republican in 2022, or the Senate is taken over by the Republican in 2022? The reason why it will be taken over is because Adam Kinzinger, Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney stayed in the Republican Party. So they will facilitate this happening.

And so I think it`s incumbent upon all of us to make the statement clear, the Republican Party is this. She -- I don`t know what battle she`s fighting in the Republican Party anymore because that battle is over. It`s been won by Trump, it`s been won by the white supremacists. They are the Republican Party. So Liz Cheney has to figure out where does she exist in this society because the GOP she thought she was in is gone.

REID: Well, it is a good point, Nicolle. I mean, you have got a nana- booboo guy, what`s his name Madison Cawthorn out there, dunking on her, and Matt Gaetz is apparently a teeny dater. I mean, none of these is -- that is the party now. And these people are just minions to Donald Trump. They don`t really exist for any other reason.

So I guess that is the question. There is talk that some people are saying it`s time to form another party. You have Myles, I might forget his last name on that`s was anonymous for a while. They are saying maybe we should exit. Is that the endgame here, that the endgame is leave the party and from another one.

WALLACE: Look, it`s hard for all of those folks who think that there -- and Matthew is absolutely right in here, and he always pulls to the next step. There is no party to reform. And here is the problem that I think Liz Cheney, even Myles Taylor and others are going to have.

You can`t pick and choose which parts of the big lie are the threat to democracy. So Liz Cheney is sort of staking her exit from leadership on this idea that the big lie emboldens the liar and the liar is on a crusade. Those are her words. She said she`s on a crusade to damage our democracy.

Well, you can`t sort of take that part out of the big lie and then not help the Democrats pass voting rights. I mean, there`s legislation that is also built on the big lie. 47 states are looking at close to 400 bills that would roll back voting rights and access to the polls based on the big lie.

So I admire what Liz Cheney did, but she can`t now pick and choose which parts of the big lie she`s going to fight on. If it`s a threat to democracy, then you have to also protect people in all 47 states. And it`s a lot to put on her. But she was in the party while a lot of this was going on.

REID: And the thing is, Matthew Dowd, I think that is such an important point, because I take the first big lie as having been birtherism, which she was down with, right? The idea you could say the president of the United States was not legitimate, it emboldens particularly white voters to divorce themselves from the idea of democracy. Because if somebody like Barack Obama is the President, and that is illegitimate, he is illegitimate, that sense is not new. Donald Trump took advantage of it. He didn`t invent it.

And so I wonder if -- you know to Nicolle`s point, it may be too late to save a party that`s gone down that road of saying to white working class voters, the only legitimate elections are the ones where who you want is elected. If that doesn`t happen, all those voters are illegitimate, that president is illegitimate. Unless you get your way even if through violence, nothing is legitimate. How do you pull that back?

DOWD: Well, to me, it actually -- I trace it back further than the birtherism. I think that if we really look at this and trace it back to where this sort of started, where this virus began and where it really started taking off, it was in the mid `90s. And in the mid `90s with Newt Gingrich started to make cultural argument, and because the Republicans were then beginning to face the prospect that the diversity of America was blossoming and that people of color, women were starting to push themselves into power and at the table. They didn`t like that. And then what else rose in the mid `90s? Fox News, and so that growth over that time.

And George W. Bush, he had his fault tie, I broke with him. He was a decent man and believed in the Constitution. He was able to cobble it together and try to keep the crazies at bay for a while. But keep in mind that Sarah Palin in 2008, as Nicolle knows very well, drew larger crowds as the vice presidential candidate than John McCain did as the presidential candidate among Republicans. That should have told us what was coming.

And Donald Trump didn`t take over the party. Donald Trump was an effect of the party, that they nominated Donald Trump for who he was. He told everybody full scale who he was and they nominated him. And so that`s what I think the problem is.

So where does Liz Cheney go and what do we do here? The problem for Liz Cheney is the Republican conservatives who don`t like Trump, you know what they represent of America? 5 percent of America are represented by conservative Republicans who don`t like Donald Trump. So what do they do? I mean, that`s the problem that we`re faced with in America, when for the first time in our history, Joy, one of the two legacy parties has been taken over by white supremacists and conspiracy theories. We`ve never had that in our history. One whole party has been taken over.

REID: It`s definitely Jim Jones vibes. And I guess my final question then to you, Nicolle, because you`ve worked for former President Bush. Because, you know, Liz Cheney said it`s not about policy, it`s not about partisanship. She said she`s going to do whatever it takes to make sure Donald Trump was not president again. She was able to pull her father and other former secretaries of defense for an op-ed. Are we going to start to hear the former president speak up? Is she going to be able to get her father to speak up? Is it going to take the principles to start coming forward, because John Boehner dropped the ball when he had his opportunity?

WALLACE: Look, it`s going to make it really hard for all the Republicans who said that they didn`t vote for anybody or they wrote in, you know, a dead revered former Republican. It`s going to put them on the spot now that Liz Cheney has made this about the democracy being in danger.

Liz Cheney has credibility with the kinds of people who did those things. Now, I tell you with my private conversations, and I still have a lot of them, with the kinds of Republicans who worry about our country`s nation`s security, who were white-knuckled the last four years, and there is still a lot of good they could do in terms of moderate Republicans, independent Republicans, swing voters. I think Matthew would call them the kinds of voters that may not be registered in either party.

DOWD: Absolutely.

WALLACE: That they can help determine an election. I those people hearing from Liz Cheney, and if she can set off a domino effect where prominent former Republicans hear from them, they maybe become part -- they maybe sort of become Biden Republicans.

And I think that the potential -- just watching President Biden today, he has a super power of giving space and grace to people who do not deserve it. And as I`ve said this on here with you before, Joy, the Republicans -- Kevin McCarthy did not deserve the space and grace that the president gave him today but he may be playing this longer game where he doesn`t take the bait and swing voters who, you know, they`re weary of either party, they may just start voting with President Biden and his policies and sort of down the ticket and it may represent a realignment. That is perhaps our best hope.

REID: Yes, it`s like punching a marshmallow. He`s very difficult to fight. And I think he does have that power.

You guys were the exact people that I wanted to talk to in this A block. Thank you so much for doing it. Nicolle Wallace, Matthew Dowd, you guys are great. Thank you very much and God bless us all.

WALLACE: Thank you.

DOWD: Thank you.

REID: Thank you. Up next on THE REIDOUT, Kevin McCarthy as we were just discussing, he has no idea of the Pandora`s Box that he opened by removing Liz Cheney from leadership. And now, the fight is on, between Trump worshipers, and a small, the potentially powerful block of O.G. conservatives, as we were just discussing.

Plus, just as Cheney warned, Republicans were in complete denial about their hero`s culpability during a hearing today about the January 6th insurrection.

And my friend, Lawrence O`Donnell, it`s my friend night tonight, and he`s here with a preview of his exclusive interview with President Biden, which airs tonight at 10 P.M. Eastern.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

REID: In ousting Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy made the decision to take his party to war against itself, all on behalf of a former president whose fragile ego can`t handle the fact that he lost.

The puppet Kevin might want to better acquaint himself with the person he`s now up against. Now, while she may only represent a minority of her party in a small, small state, she`s not nobody. She`s not Liz Jones. She`s Liz Cheney.

Now, let`s be honest. Her family has been living and breathing the dark side of American politics at the highest reaches of power for five decades, dating back to the days when her father, Dick Cheney, served as chief of staff to President Ford at the close of the Vietnam era.

He was secretary of defense under the first President Bush, overseeing a huge military deployment in the Gulf War. And, of course, he was elected as vice president under George W. Bush, where he pushed a needless war to bring democracy to Iraq and, as many would say, would -- to grab some leverage over that country`s oil reserves.

In other words, the Cheney are the living embodiment of the military industrial complex. They have got access and allies. And those resources could very well be brought to bear in Liz Cheney`s fight against Trump.

After all, it was Liz Cheney who secretly orchestrated an unprecedented op- ed in "The Washington Post" by all 10 living former defense secretaries, including her father, warning against Trump`s efforts to politicize the military.

Ironically, however, it was neoconservatives like Cheney who opened the door to Trump`s rise to power. The war in Iraq so broke the faith of many Americans with government and so exhausted many working-class voters that many of them embraced a demagogue in Donald J. Trump, who pretended and still pretends to this day that he opposed the invasion, which he didn`t.

Similarly, Adam Serwer wrote in "The Atlantic" last week: "Cheney`s courageous stand against the party of Trump is a stand against a party that she helps build, a monster she helped create."

Adam Serwer of "The Atlantic" joins me now. He`s the author of the upcoming book, which I cannot wait to read, "The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump`s America." Also with me is Kurt Bardella, my pal and Democratic strategist and former House Oversight Committee spokesman when he was in the other party.

And, Adam, the cruelty is the point, first of all, is the -- I think it was -- it is the logo, it should be the logo of the Trump administration. It was so brilliant, so I can`t wait to read your book.

But tease out for us a little bit why you believe this is Cheney`s own monster that she`s now trying to slay.

ADAM SERWER, "THE ATLANTIC": Oh, thank you for saying that, first of all.

I mean, I think you see, as Liz Cheney`s father put, 9/11 led -- led Cheney and the Bush administration to believe that they had to go to -- quote -- "the dark side," and, of course -- to fight terrorism.

And of course, what that really means is, you enter this state of emergency, where previously unjustifiable things become justifiable. And when that lasts for 20 years, that war mentality eventually turns itself inward.

And you could see this with the way that Trump talks about things like torture, the way he`s giving pardons to convicted war criminals, to police who have abused their powers. There`s this belief that the law doesn`t apply to certain people, if they`re breaking it for certain reasons that they justify as being OK.

And, in this case, because Trump told his supporters that the election was illegitimate, then the insurrection was justified. And this is connected to the excuses that Liz Cheney made on behalf of the things the Bush administration did.

But, also, when the Obama administration was trying to uphold the rule of law, when it was trying to try terrorists in courts and reject torture and reject these kinds of dark side things that the previous administration had embraced in the name of fighting terrorism, Liz Cheney was there saying, these laws don`t matter. What matters is -- is survival. And, therefore, we can just disregard the Constitution and the rule of law as something that weaklings invoke when they -- when they`re trying to justify being weak.

And, unfortunately, that is exactly what -- the kind -- the attitude that Trump took. He said, we have to be tough, we have to be nasty.

And until the insurrection -- obviously, you mentioned that she helped organize the op-ed by former secretaries of state, which is significant. But, until recently, Liz Cheney did not speak out against that type of politics.

And that type of politics, in fact, she eagerly embraced it. She was complimented by people like Steve Scalise and Matt Gaetz and other people who have embraced Trump-style politics as someone who the Republican Party needed to be more like.

So, I mean, it`s -- I think that what she`s doing now is really brave and really admirable. At the same time, she did not have the foresight to see 10 years ago that this kind of -- where this kind of politics would lead. And now we`re all paying for it.

And I might -- what I might add to that is that McCarthy and the Republican leadership and all the people who are indulging Trump in this way, who know that the election was not stolen, who think that they are playacting here, they are simply laying the seeds for a more illiberal turn in the future.

REID: And it is a good point.

And you were in the Republican Party during that era, Kurt. And it -- I think it`s fundamentally true. Max Boot tries to argue the opposite, but I don`t see how you get around that, right? Trump came in and did the Muslim ban first. That is a product of the old thinking that these people are non- people, that immigrants are non-people.

Like, this is not a new thing. So, then my question is, though, despite all of that, she`s still a Cheney. She still has the resources and the contacts and the ability to reach out into that old Republican world.

How much damage could she theoretically do to somebody like a Kevin McCarthy if she wanted to, or Trump?


Like, this isn`t Liz Brown. This is Liz Cheney, a name that is ingrained in the political lexicon in the American electorate. And I will tell you, when you`re dealing with Cheney, this is not some helpless person. This is not someone who`s going to be intimidated. This is not someone who`s going to live in fear.

This is someone who has a lifetime of legacy, friends, allies, supporters, a professional network to tap into to make life very difficult for Kevin McCarthy, for Donald Trump. And she`s made it very clear she`s not going to go quietly into the night. She`s not stepping aside from the podium, the microphone, or the stage.

In fact, because of all of this and the way that this has gone down, she has an even bigger microphone now at her disposal.

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: In their haste to try to silence and purge Liz Cheney, what Kevin McCarthy and the House Republican Conference has done, they have amplified her. They have made her bigger. They have made -- they have let her free.

They have liberated her to now stand up, speak forwardly, and lead this charge against them. And I think that they are going to rue the day that they kicked her out of leadership and removed those barriers and boundaries, because now she`s going to take it right to them.

And I will tell you, there are a few people that want to be in a fight with. A Cheney is one of them, because, as we have seen, Cheneys can do a hell of a lot of damage.

REID: Yes, I`m telling you, it`s Ramsay Bolton vs. Cersei Lannister.

That is the way I see it.


REID: It is not like an easy fight. And it`s not necessarily good guys and bad guys. They`re about to fight each other. And it`s not going to be pretty.

Adam Serwer, I`m sorry we don`t have more time.

Adam Serwer, Kurt Bardella, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: Key figures in the Trump administration try to defend their response to the Capitol insurrection in a -- at a combative congressional hearing. And even more interesting than what they had to say is what they were supposed to say, but didn`t.

We will be right back.


REID: By ousting Congresswoman Liz Cheney from leadership, the Republican Party is 100 percent committed to erasing from our collective memory the January 6 insurrection and the role that Donald Trump played in inspiring the attack.

But, to be clear, this is what they`re trying to flush down the memory hole:





REID: Most Americans can`t forget the terror and trauma of that day.

But the Republicans, they want us to forget. They need us to forget. And that`s what they`re rewriting history.

Just take a look at these three House Republicans during a hearing on the Trump administration`s preparations and response to the Capitol insurrection.


REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): There was no insurrection. And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie. If you didn`t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.

REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Do you recall the name of the young lady, a veteran wrapped in an American flag, that was killed in the U.S. Capitol? As the death certificate says, it was a homicide. Who executed Ashli Babbitt?


REID: Witnesses included Christopher Miller, the former acting defense secretary, Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney general, and Robert Contee, head of the Metropolitan Police Department.

In his written testimony, Miller was supposed to tell the committee that he -- quote -- "personally believed Trump`s comments encouraged the protesters" -- unquote.

But when it came to saying those words out loud, Miller omitted that phrase from his remarks.

California Congressman Ro Khanna into Miller for failing to do more.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Secretary Miller, I have never been more offended on this committee by a witness statement than yours.

You were more concerned about defending your own reputation and justifying your own actions than the sanctity of this Capitol and the sanctity of our democracy.


REID: Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, who was a Trump impeachment manager earlier this year, and I believe is in a lawsuit right now over the Capitol insurrection that you have filed.

And, Congressman Schiff, this reminds me of the rewrite that conservatives have done about the Civil War, trying to change what it was about, trying to soften it and rewrite it in American history.

But this isn`t something that happened 100 years ago. This just happened 120-something days ago. And yet you have people trying to make it look like -- here`s the first one -- a normal tourist visit.

Let me show you some video. This is officer Eugene Goodman leading terrorists, these domestic terrorists, away from -- well, tell us what would have been -- if they had gone the other direction -- this is Officer Goodman.

If those domestic terrorists had gone the other direction, where would they have been, Congressman?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): They would have been in the Senate chamber, and they would have murdered senators.

REID: Let me show you another thing.

This -- there was the -- this defense of the woman and talking about trying to make the woman who was shot, Ashli Babbitt, the victim -- sort of a hero, I guess, now on the right.

I want to show you another group of these domestic terrorist, these insurrectionists, attacking the speaker`s lobby. Take a look at that.




REID: Now, in other angles of this, you can see that there is a Capitol Police officer holding a gun guarding the other side of that Capitol.

And these so-called men, by the way, let a woman be the first to try to breach the door, the woman Ashli Babbitt, who was shot, who was an Air Force veteran.

If they`d gotten through those doors, what would have been on the other side of those doors, Congressman?

SWALWELL: Members of Congress and the slowest, least mobile members who were the last to leave the chamber, Joy.

God bless that officer who saved so many lives as a murderous mob tried to storm the chamber.

And also, Joy, I just have to say that it`s so frustrating to watch this and hear my colleagues try and erase history, erase their role in inciting that murderous mob.

And we cannot forget -- and, frankly, also, Joy, it`s Police Week this week, and you have hundreds of Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers who are still grieving, still suffering from what was inflicted upon them.

And to hear that we`re supposed to back the blue, but they can`t back the blue, my Republican colleagues, who protected the Capitol that day, it`s very disheartening.

REID: You spoke with one of these officers. And this is Officer Michael Fanone, who we have all come to know through the interviews that he`s given, particularly the one he gave to Don Lemon.

He talked about in a letter he wrote to everyone in Congress he was pulled into the crowd, beaten with fists, metal objects, numerous things. He was Tased. He survived hand-to-hand combat. He`s still suffering from PTSD. He talks about the fact that people are indifferent to it and it`s disgraceful.

You have spoken with him, correct? And what -- what is he saying now about what he`s hearing coming from these Republican members?

SWALWELL: I just spoke to him before coming on your show.

And he`s so upset and he`s so troubled that what he experienced, you know, having his own gun attempted to be taken away from him, being cattle- prodded, suffering a heart attack, losing consciousness, would be described as a normal tour at the Capitol.

And he and others are having a hard time grappling with what happened that day. He was beaten by a Blue Lives Matter flagpole. And so to really try and normalize what happened that day discounts his heroism. discounts the lives that were lost from law enforcement that day and the days after and he just wants Republicans and Democrats because he doesn`t give a rip about politics to acknowledge that this is not normal. That those people sought to overturn an election and they used violence and force against police officers to try to carry it out.

REID: Has he spoken with Kevin McCarthy, the leader -- I put that in scare quotes because the real leader apparently is Donald Trump who he is the puppet off. But has tried -- has he spoken with Kevin McCarthy?

SWALWELL: No. Now, Kevin McCarthy`s office is calling Officer Fanone a liar. Officer Fanone called me today saying he`s been trying to reach McCarthy for weeks. He made a call today and was hung up on by Kevin McCarthy`s staff. Kevin McCarthy`s staff tweeted out that that did not occur, and just imagine putting your life on the line as Officer Fanone did, going unconscious, having your four girls fear for your life and the death threats that have come out since you told your truth about what you experienced. Kevin McCarthy not only won`t even meet with him, but now, his staff is saying he`s a liar.

REID: Wow.

SWALWELL: All he wants to do is tell McCarthy what he`s experienced and why we can`t forget it.

REID: That is unbelievable. That is unbelievable and these are people who supposedly support police. That is -- that is a hell of a way to show that you support police. Tat is incredible.

Thank you for sharing that with us and Officer Fanone, Mike Fanone, is welcome on the show anytime if you want to continue to talk what happened to you, or maybe he should be subpoenaed and speak before Congress. Then maybe McCarthy will listen to him.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here this evening.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

REID: Wow. Cheers. Wow.

Up next, President Biden holds his first meeting with congressional leaders, including the puppet, Kevin, about how to pay for his ambitious agenda. Biden wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. Can you guess how Republicans respond to that idea?

Lawrence O`Donnell fresh off his interview with the president, and hours before his big Biden town hall, will be here.

Stay with us.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration. 100 percent of my focus is on standing up to this administration. What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.


REID: Mitch McConnell, the self-proclaimed grim reaper Darth Vader clone, has been honest from day one about his utter unwillingness to work with the Biden administration, period.

But Biden ran on his old school backroom-deal-making credentials, so he met with Republican leaders for the first time today to discuss his $2 trillion infrastructure bill. Afterwards Kevin McCarthy, puppet, fresh from ousting Liz Cheney from Republican leadership to appease Donald Trump, his boss, told leaders the meeting was productive.

He talked about, it`s a different tone though with supporters per "The New York Times", texting them, quote, I just met with corrupt Joe Biden and he`s still planning to push his radical socialist agenda on the American people. Real bipartisan.

While talking to reporters, McCarthy, along with McConnell ruled out any tax increases which is how Biden plans to pay for his bill.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You won`t find any Republicans going to raise taxes. So, raising taxes will be the biggest mistake you could make. So, that to us is a non-starter.


REID: I feel like I actually see his strengths. Biden`s infrastructure plan, including the tax -- increases in Texas for corporations, some of whom pay zero in taxes after all their deductions is popular with the American public. McCarthy also said multiple times to reporters that he discussed the definition of infrastructure with the president limiting it to roads, bridges, airports.

Republicans have objected to the parts of Biden`s bill that include universal pre-K and child care support. But in an exclusive interview with my friend and colleague, Lawrence O`Donnell, directly after his meeting with Republicans, Biden stressed the importance of those very components of his bill and said he`d get it done without Republicans if he has to.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to get a bipartisan deal on as much as we can get a bipartisan deal on and that means roads, bridges, broadband, all infrastructure but I`m not giving up on the fact that we have, you know, 2 million women not able to go back to work because all the day care centers are closed, they`re out of business. So, we`re going to fight those out.

So, I want to know, what can we agree on? And let`s see if we can get an agreement to kick start this and fight over and see what`s left and see if I can get it done without Republicans if need be.


REID: We`ll have another exclusive clip from Lawrence`s interview with President Biden, along with Lawrence himself ahead of tonight`s MSNBC vaccination town hall event. And that`s right after the break.

Don`t go anywhere.


REID: Joining me now is Lawrence O`Donnell, host of "THE LAST WORD" and host of tonight`s MSNBC town hall event, "Vaccinating America" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, which includes an exclusive interview with President Biden.

Do we have another clip? I think we have another -- an additional clip if we -- let me know in my ear if we have an additional clip. But tell me, first of all, speak, okay, let`s play the clip first.

Here`s the clip.


O`DONNELL: You`re coming up against something we`ve never seen before in any vaccination program or any public health program, which is a partisan resistance to vaccination. How are you going to convince them to get the vaccine?

BIDEN: They`re showing up. All this stuff about vaccine hesitancy; the truth of the matter is more and more and more people are getting the vaccine.

And so, I`ve never believed that there would be a large percentage of Americans who wouldn`t get the vaccine.


REID: The data does not back that up. Does his optimism seem unrealistic?

O`DONNELL: No, it`s Joe Biden. And you know, I have to kind of break the wall of the interview at a certain point because I know what he`s doing. He`s the kind of guy who when I was working with him over in the United States Senate would always take the one positive thing you said, you`d be standing there, and Republican senator in the hallway talking to him. Nine horrible things in a row about how no chance, no way.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: The last thing you say to him is a slightly positive thing. He`d turn around from that and say to me, he`d only tell me the positive, right?


O`DONNELL: Right? So that`s the way he begins and that is actually the way people who are serious about legislation handle it until it becomes absolutely clear that those nine bad things the guy said, that`s going to control the situation. And you`re never going to get a compromise on this person.

But, you know, he`s up against something remarkable. We all know, you get to a point maybe in your life when you have to face a competency test. Maybe take the keys away from grandma from driving the car. One of the questions you`re going to be asked in any competency, mental competency test you`ll ever get is who is the president of the United States?


O`DONNELL: Joy, there`s tens of millions of people who get that question wrong right now.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: And they are not taking the vaccine because they think they know better than Dr. Fauci and I don`t know how you get through to that.

REID: So you have this town hall tonight that is about the vaccines and that is my biggest fear, honestly, and I wonder if, you know, in talking with -- I`m so jealous you got to talk with Kizzmekia Corbett or talking with Dr. Fauci or talking with the president, do they fear that we will not get to enough herd immunity, that he won`t just be in a cycle of the virus forever?

O`DONNELL: So, Dr. Fauci is going to talk about that. He -- because that`s our question. It`s -- if I`m getting the vaccine, if all these people get the vaccine and then over there, there`s a bunch of people who aren`t, are they a threat to us? And the answer is it depends basically on how many of them there are.

And that is the question of herd immunity not 100 percent. You don`t have to get 100 percent of the people immune to get the so-called group immunity, herd immunity. And so that issue is something that the scientists are still working on because this is a new virus. So the number varies.

You know, Dr. Fauci has told me that we know exactly what herd immunity is for measles. You know, it`s not 100 percent, but we know exactly where it is, what the number is. We don`t know exactly where it is here.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: So what we`d like to do is get as many people as possible vaccined. If you get up around 90, you`ll have herd immunity. The question is, do you get it at 70?

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: You know? If you get it at 70, if you get herd immunity in this country at 70, we`ll probably get there.

REID: So, you did get a chance to meet and talk with Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett who is amazing, and who for a lot of people that I knew who were hesitant on that vaccine, her existence is what convinced them to do it. That they said, OK, this black woman was part of developing this vaccine. Give me the Kizzy vaccine.

I was like trying to get the Moderna because of it, but I took what I could get. I was like, you want to get me Pfizer, I`ll take it.

Is she aware of that status that she has in terms of being an inspiration that gets people pumped about the vaccine?

O`DONNELL: You know, she told me her niece who saw some article about her somewhere recently, and said, are you famous? Yeah, I think if you`re 34 years old and you basically invent the Moderna vaccine --

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: -- then you ought to be famous.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: You know? We`re paying attention to the wrong people, you know, if you`re not famous.

And she is just a remarkable story. Growing up in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and taking a real interest in science in high school and having a teacher in high school who spotted her and said, whoa, to this day said best student I ever had, which doesn`t surprise me. And she explains something really important, which is this notion that this was done, pardon the expression, warp speed.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, sure, because she had been working on it six years before COVID-19 appeared.

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: What she was working on was a kind of vaccine that could deal with quickly with any strain of COVID, any strain of coronavirus that might emerge. So she had built this with her team --

REID: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- over a number of years.

So the Friday in January of last year when they got basically the code for the coronavirus, the so-called sequencing which describes how it behaves, that`s when the vaccine builders know what they have to build. They know what they have, how it has to look. And so that comes out on a Friday.

She spends the weekend -- she spends the weekend working on it and has it by Monday. And she told that to Joe Biden. There`s video of her telling that to Joe Biden over the weekend and Joe Biden had exactly the reaction we have.

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: Joy, when I was 34 years old, my weekends --


O`DONNELL: My weekends did not include anything half serious, you know? I mean --

REID: Yeah, I feel completely inadequate.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, she`s amazing.

REID: You`ve had an incredible career, too, and part of it was on Capitol Hill, so, you know, I got to ask you while I have you here. Did President Biden talk about Kevin McCarthy? Kevin McCarthy walk out of those meetings today, immediately sent out a text to his supporters saying, radical Joe Biden is going to have a socialist agenda, blah. What do you think -- did he indicate what he thinks of this person who I just call a puppet?

O`DONNELL: I think Joe Biden knows exactly what he`s doing, which is he is doing this attempt, this very public attempt to work with them. Very good sign about the meeting. The one thing you always want to know about the meeting is, two things you want to know. The number one thing, how long did it go?

REID: Yeah.

O`DONNELL: OK. Now, this was a meeting that on substance, when you assume there`s zero coming from the Republican sofa in the Oval Office and why should the Democratic sofa in the Oval Office bother saying anything since these zeros aren`t going to say anything? That meeting in content can be 15 minutes and you`re really done, right?

For show, they`re going to make it an hour, you know, to pretend something serious is happening here. This went way into overtime.


O`DONNELL: That`s an extremely good sign because these meetings go into overtime only, they go past the hour only when this discussion is worth continuing.

REID: All right.

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is already up to a willingness of $800 billion on infrastructure.

REID: He`s going to talk him up.

O`DONNELL: I mean, they`re far apart but they`re not -- they`re not zero.

REID: All right. Well, I`m going to take that optimism into my evening because I --

O`DONNELL: Biden optimism, try it for a weekend, just for a weekend.

RIED: Biden optimism. Well, I`m going to try it because I got to make sure that I get home in time to watch your special.

Lawrence O`Donnell, thank you very much, my friend, for being the first on- set guest ever in the REIDOUT history. We`re going to be watching your interview with President Biden and his COVID team, in an MSNBC town hall event, "Vaccinating America", tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC.

But right now, REIDOUT is done.

Chris Hayes starts now.